New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who backed President Donald Trump’s campaign, said Sunday that he does not think a special prosecutor is needed to investigate allegations about Trump’s relationship with Russia.
“The Justice Department over the course of time has shown itself with the professionals that are there to have the ability to investigate these type of things,” Christie told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.” “This is whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat, we’ve seen it happen on both sides, when a special prosecutor gets involved, the thing gets completely out of control. And I think that doesn’t serve anybody’s purposes.”
“We have a lot of important problems to deal with in this country,” he added. “I’m not saying that’s not one of them, but I believe the Justice Department can handle it.”
Democrats, citing Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ involvement with the Trump campaign, have been calling for an independent investigation into allegations that the president’s campaign aides were in contact with the Russian government before the election, as well as other suggestions of Russian meddling. Rep. Darrell Issa, a California Republican, joined in on Saturday and argued that a special prosecutor is needed to oversee the case.
Reports that the FBI had discovered those contacts have raised eyebrows and prompted the president’s critics to raise the question whether his campaign was aware of or colluded with alleged Russian cyberattacks on Democrats during the election cycle. The Trump campaign has denied any such wrongdoing.
News that White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus spoke with the FBI to request that the bureau deny those stories has further emboldened the president’s critics, who argue that contact between the administration and the intelligence officials reportedly investigating it is inappropriate.
Christie, while maintaining that he trusts that Priebus was acting out of good intentions, suggested that the chief of staff made a mistake, if only because the optics are bad.
“I don’t think that Reince thought he was doing anything wrong. I really don’t,” Christie told Tapper. “And I have absolute confidence in his integrity, but you need to have the sensibility of a prosecutor when you’re dealing with these issues because perception matters.”